Man denies throwing fatal punch, sentenced for his role in death

Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Minneapolis man was sentenced to 81 months in prison Thursday while steadfastly maintaining he was not the one who threw the deadly punch.

Tristan Antonio Keys, 22, was sentenced for both aiding an offender after the fact and second-degree drug possession.  The sentences were identical and Hennepin County District Court Judge Martha Holton Dimick ordered them to run concurrently.

Keys was involved in the death of Lamar Wilson, 53, of Apple Valley. On April 29, 2013, police were called to the Stop N Shop at 3050 First Ave. S in Minneapolis where Wilson was on the ground, bloodied and having trouble breathing.  Wilson had stopped to check the lights on his van when an SUV pulled up and the driver got out, accused Wilson of being a snitch and then punched him once in the head, which dropped him to the pavement.

Keys was charged with first-degree manslaughter, but pleaded guilty on April 14 to the aiding an offender and drug possession charges.  A third drug charge was dropped as part of the plea. At his guilty plea, and again Thursday, Keys denied that he was the one who punched Wilson.

“You seem like God-fearing people,” Keys said to Wilson’s sister and wife who gave victim impact statements. “And as God is my witness, I did not lay a hand on him.”

Keys said the only thing he did was drive away the man who did punch Wilson.

“So you know who did it,” Judge Holton Dimick asked and he said yes. “What is your responsibility there?”

A few minutes later, the judge told Keys that this violence has to stop.

“Our communities are being ruined,” she said. “You have to take responsibility to where your actions change.”

Wilson’s wife and his sister described the victim as a kind man who would pull over and help people having car trouble, was an usher in his church and an intelligent man who sewed many of his own clothes.